Paban Das Baul / The State of Bengal

Real Sugar

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Paban das Baul, from the famous Bauls of Bengal family, and Sam Mills, ex-23 Skidoo, combine for an album which, though quite lovely, doesn't readily fall into any category -- it simply is. Yes, there's the Bauls influence in the vocals, but they're only one part of this tapestry, with Mills being responsible of much of the rest -- and his mind seems to be an eclectic thing indeed, running from the downbeat of "Dil Ki Doya" to some polite drum'n'bass on "Ore Pionkha," or simply allowing the beauty of the vocals to flow on "Mon Moti." To be fair, there are plenty of lovely melodies flowing all though this record and their malleability means they can fit in almost any setting. But ultimately there seems to be too much of an air of calculation about it all, of toes being dipped in different waters without ever just plunging in headlong; there's no sense of passion about the work, if you prefer -- it never wants to risk offending by pushing the envelope. To enjoy it for what it is, that's fine. But to expect it to be truly groundbreaking would be to have false expectations.

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